RJ model for family law pioneered in Mexico

This innovative model of restorative justice arises from the experience obtained from the family restoration processes carried out in the Justice Department in Mexico (Poder Judicial del Estado de México), which is a pioneer in restorative practices in judicial settings, achieving an integrated model from which aims to resolve the legal dispute, but goes further by addressing and attending the offenses and damages that arise in the family environment.

Architect of this initiative, Professor Claudia Villavicencio, will be speaking about this initiative at RJ World and joins us today.

RJ World: Thanks for being with us today Claudia! Tell us about how you saw the possibilities for restorative justice in your department.

Prof. Villavicencio: Thank you! My passion, vocation, and commitment to family restorative justice arose from my daily experience as a facilitator in the Judiciary of the State of Mexico, both in the family and criminal sphere – when I realized the and the harms that are generated in families and the way in which these are projected not only within the family, but also the impact on the social environment.

RJ World: We share that passion! So how did you go about applying the restorative approach?

Prof. Villavicencio: I realized the possibility and the need to implement the spectrum of restorative practices for families to not only resolve the conflict, but also address the damage, when I managed to identify the need for families to go beyond an agreement, to a trial or a sentence. I consider it important to support these families with a restorative approach from beginning to end, which gave me the opportunity to carry out the first ‘circle of sentencing’ in family matters with the valuable participation of families, magistrates and officials of the court, community and multidisciplinary team, for the attention of damages and the solution of the conflict from the root.

Over the years I have come to realize that peace that is built from families transcends people and the social environment, so betting on family restorative justice is an accurate bet in favor of Peace.

Could you give us a quick overview of this family initiative in your justice department.

Prof. Villavicencio: The Family Restorative Justice project seeks to deal with the damage in an integral way, that is, not only in form, but also in substance, reaching the damages, to look for alternatives that allow for their repair.

This involves the multidisciplinary intervention of a team made up of professionals from different social sciences, such as law, psychology, social work, etc., who together with the family facilitator, who directs the restoration process, accompany families on the road to dealing with offenses and repairing damages in the family relationship. Multidisciplinarity allows an integral mapping of the conflict from the experience of different professions, which allows identifying the damages and seeking effective alternatives that allow them to be repaired in an integral way.

Restorative justice, when applied to family law cases, allows addressing the entire spectrum of restorative practices from informal to formal practices, not only reactively, but also preventively, which allows families to strengthen healthy emotional and social ties.

The design of programs with a total, moderately or partially restorative approach, is also part of this integrative approach to heal the damage in family relationships, according to the needs of the participants.

Presentation summary: “The importance of the implementation of restorative justice in family conflicts, for the adequate and necessary care of the damage caused in said environment by the family conflict itself, in accordance with the philosophy, principles and methodologies of the practices restorative. The application of family restorative justice is necessary for those conflicts where the damage causes asymmetric conditions between people and this does not allow them to be addressed from a mediation approach, but under the accompaniment that is possible with family restorative justice with appropriate multidisciplinary intervention.”

RJ World: That’s a very comprehensive approach. How does this work in relation to courts and legal proceedings?

Prof. Villavicencio: In judicial settings where there is already a trial, formal restorative practices have been carried out in the Mexican Judiciary Power (Poder Judicial Mexiquense), such as “circles of restorative sentencing in family matter” (“círculos de sentencia restaurativos en materia familiar”) where with the collaborative approach and democratic restorative justice, judges, magistrates, lawyers, parents, children, community members, and the multidisciplinary team that facilitates and accompanies families, attend to damages, and seek to repair them, and with the agreements that emerged from the Restorative process and of the circle said, the corresponding sentence is issued in family matter, without a doubt having facilitated the first circle of this type, it  encourage my interest in strengthening and building a model.

I hope that in the following years, efforts will be added from the community and institutions to increase restorative programs in family matters, to allow holistic support and the highest value that justice can achieve when it is achieved from the recognition of the another, the reparation of the damage and the integral solution of the conflict in the family scenario.

RJ World: That’s a powerful vision! Thanks for speaking with us today Claudia. We’re looking forward to hearing all about it in August!

Prof. Villavicencio: Thank you.

Find out more at the Kartartizo website:

Spanish version of article: https://katartizo.com.mx/modelo-de-justicia-restaurativa-aplicado-a-los-conflictos-familiares/